Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Foreign Assistance Act of 1966.

September 19, 1966

THE FOREIGN Assistance Act of 1966 which I signed today provides the authority to carry forward our efforts to help other nations help themselves. These efforts are the foundation of our foreign policy in the emerging nations. Nothing we do at home or abroad is more important.

Programs authorized by this act will:

--attack the causes of poverty through special efforts in agriculture, health, and education;

--be concentrated in countries that are doing the most to help themselves;

--permit us to play our part in the exciting new regional arrangements emerging in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

The Congress has wisely carried forward the principle of multiyear authorization for development lending and the Alliance for Progress. All of us know that the development of nations is not accomplished in a single year. It is the product of years of hard, patient, and imaginative work-primarily by the developing countries themselves.

We and our partners must approach the problem of development in a pioneering spirit. We have learned much about nation-building in the past two decades. But we have also learned to expect many trials and many errors before success is assured.

We have learned that our most important asset is a willingness to invent, to experiment, to try new approaches.

This attitude will be the hallmark of our efforts to carry out this act. We will search for new ways to promote regional cooperation through programs which combine the resources of several nations for the common welfare of all. In this sort of creativity lie the seeds of tomorrow's world community.

These programs are necessities, not luxuries. The act which I sign today will keep them strong and vital.

I am, however, concerned over a number of new restrictions on the administration of this program that have been added to this bill. Some of them are much less objectionable than earlier versions considered by the Congress, but, taken together they still unduly and unnecessarily limit the management of our foreign aid program.

The Congress has a clear duty in connection with authorization of the program. I have an equally clear duty in its execution. Although I am approving this bill with these new restrictions in it, I strongly urge the Congress next year to recognize the need for greater flexibility in the administration of a complex program that must be responsive to the rapidly changing circumstances of our world. Undue restrictions on the form and timing of our actions can significantly diminish the benefits we seek from the program.


Note: As enacted, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1966 (H.R. 15750) is Public Law 89-583 (80 Stat. 795).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Foreign Assistance Act of 1966. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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